March 22, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Short Story: War (Originally written in Russian by Jonathan Vidgop and translated to English by Leo Shtutin)

2 min read

Leo Shtutin translates a powerful story originally written in Russian by Jonathan Vidgop in the first person with a thrilling narrative that keeps your heart thumping in anticipation of what’s next.

My room is very small. I can traverse it in five steps, turn right or left, depending on what wall I’m walking along, and take three further steps. My room thus resembles a Christian coffin or an antique pencil box with a fitted wooden lid. But my door is reinforced with iron, and floating fish-like in the little porthole cut into its centre is the great eye of some unknown warden. A repulsive oily colour covers the walls—a colour to which the grey fur of my little friends stands in most agreeable contrast.

    There are five of them, my interlocutors. The trouble is that we’re all of us intelligible only to ourselves. Their shrill, scarcely audible squeaking is incomprehensible to me—I cannot so much as discern modulations in it; and my speech, for them, is but a dull drone. My grey friends began putting in appearances recently when I realized that my stay here has no time limit.          

In the middle of the night, I awoke on the cement floor, swaddled in my loose mackintosh, and saw a pair of little sparks ablaze in the half-dark. A pair: another: yet another: still yet another: five pairs of eyes, regarding me intently. Abrim with all manner of prejudice, I leapt to my feet in a trice and pressed myself against the wall. The rats shrank back, too, then froze stock-still.      

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